Isabel Mabote (1963-2021)



Isabel Mabote, music teacher and director of the Escola Nacional de Música, passed away on Saturday, at the age of 58.


Mabote was also a member of the Fest Coros jury. First, it was Hortêncio Langa, at the beginning of the year, and now Isabel Mabote, member of the jury in all editions of the STV contest.


The group includes Teresa Chiziane and Arão Litsuri, the latter of which acknowledged to ‘O Pais’ that it would be “difficult” to bring together a jury as cohesive as it was with the presence of Isabel Mabote.


“Hortência and I had the knowledge we had about music, but we felt stronger when she was with us in terms of musical evaluation and opinion. It will be complicated for other people to do this great task,” Litsuri said.


Isabel Mabote dedicated most of her life to music, sometimes as a conductor, sometimes as a teacher or jury member in the big STV competitions.


It is more than ten years since she was nominated to head the National Music School. But that wasn’t the most impressive thing about the person who left us this Saturday. Her colleague David Abílio talks about her charisma when she interacted with students and singing groups.

“The way she treated students and how they responded to her was something that we others, who also managed singing groups, aspired to. It inspired us a lot,” Abilio commented.

Some of that charisma was visible every time she assessed choral groups – at the Coros festival, for example. Her assessments always began with acknowledging the best aspects of the group.

But be careful not to confuse this generosity with a lack of knowledge, nor that it was less demanding. Compliments or not, Isabel Mabote wanted to work.

She praised, criticised and pointed out solutions according to the specificities of each group. For her, choral groups needed to choose songs that were easy and good to listen to and enjoy.

Speaking of appreciation, Moreira Chonguiça’s saxophone sound is one of the best-loved in Mozambique and around the world. And it was at the hands of music teacher Isabel Mabote that it all started.


For Chonguiça, Mabote represents much more than a music teacher. “She taught singing, piano and musicality. She represents a multiplicity [of things] for me,” the renowned saxophonist said.


And this multifaceted nature was not just apparent with Moreira, because Mabote had knowledge that went beyond music, as Moreira himself testified. “Professor Isabel had knowledge of pedagogy, and also of institutional crisis management.”

She also knew how to manage her students’ emotions, as Nelson Nhachungue recalls. At the beginning of his career, young Nelson Nhachungue had Isabel Mabote as a teacher at the Fama Show academy, also on STV.


He says he had problems singing falsetto, but “my teacher taught me to be natural and use my voice as it is”.

Nelson was training with the help of Isabel Mabote at the Fama Show school. Nhachungue says he owes everything he has, as a singer, to Isabel Mabote. “Everything I do on stage is thanks to her,” he says.


Nelson and Moreira Chonguiça are not the only famous Mozambican musicians who passed through the hands of Isabel Mabote. The list includes, among many others, Ivan Mazuze, Sheila Jesuita and even the current Minister of Culture and Tourism, Kika Materula.

Isabel Mabote leaves behind four children, including Cídia Mabote, who has followed her footsteps into the music world. The farewell ceremony to the music teacher took place this Monday in the chapel of the Maputo Central Hospital, and followed to the Michafutene cemetery.



Professora Isabel!

The Ministry of Culture has issued a note of condolence on Isabel Mabote’s death.

It is with deep pain and consternation that we learn of the news of the physical disappearance of Professor Isabel de Sousa Cândida Mabote, an employee and Member of the Advisory Board of this Ministry, who at the time of her death held the role of Director of the National School of Music.

‘Professora Isabel’, as she was affectionately known, was born on November 30, 1963 in Maputo.


She began her career studying music at the then Centre for Cultural Studies in Maputo, in 1980. In 1983, she joined the Escola Nacional de Música, finishing her training in 1984 and immediately beginning her teaching career.


In 1995, Isabel Mabote went to study music at the Évora Professional School in Portugal.

She returned to Mozambique, where she came to devote her entire life, literally, to working as a music teacher, in the specialty of singing at the Escola Nacional de Música, which is still today the only public institution of basic and secondary music education in the country.


During her years of activities as a teacher, she was responsible for the training of many students, who arrived in her classroom as children, around 7 years old. In her hands, they grew until they became useful men and women for the country on different fronts of the Arts and Culture.


Some of these names are: Kika Materula, Ivete Maibasse, Ívan Mazuze, Moreira Chonguiça, Orlando Venhereque, Sarmento de Cristo, Timóteo Cuche (saxophonists); Ívan Manhique, Sheila Jesuita, Cídia Mabote (flautists); Ótis Selemane and Edson Massangai (drummers).

She was a teacher of names that stand out in singing, such as Sheila Jesuíta, Idálvia Bahule, Lena Bahule, Iracema Maiope, Adérito Manhiça (known in the musical world as De Manhiça) Sezaquiel.


These are just a few of the names that have passed through her hands in 37 years of activity in the country’s Arts and Culture classrooms.


It is also important to highlight some names of musicians from the groups that have established themselves throughout the Fama Show and Fest Corus competitions, such as: Valdemiro José, Segelina Filipe, Nelson Nhachungue and the Maranata, Angel Boys, PRM and Municipal Council of Maputo city choirs.


Isabel Mabote’s dedication as a teacher made her worthy of the position of Director of the National School of Music, a position to which she was appointed in 2003. This year was her 18th year as director of the National School of Music.


It’s been 18 years of sublime achievements. It was under the management of Professor Isabel Mabote that the School of Music received support from the Office of the First Lady of the Republic of Mozambique, at the time Maria da Luz Guebuza, and the support of the international Music Fund organization.


Teacher Isabel leaves the Escola de Música at a time when great strides are being taken with a view to curricular reform, which introduces professional education at the Escola Nacional de Música.

By virtue of her duties, Professor Isabel Mabote was a member of the Ministry of Culture’s Technical Council and the Advisory Council, now maintained under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. It was in these collegiate bodies that she invested in the struggle for the National School of Music, but also for the Dance and Visual Arts Schools.


This is the time to invite the School of Music, teachers, employees, students and former teachers and students to start and quickly produce memories about our school, undoubtedly the story of our country, as regards artistic and musical training.


Much was still expected from this important figure in musical education in Mozambique and a lot could also be said about her achievements, but emotion limits us. Even so, we will not fall silent without first promising to continue to fight for music, arts and culture in Mozambique.

The death of this cultural professional means the loss of one of the best professionals and managers of the cultural and creative industries, and leaves an irreparable void in our cultural heritage. In this moment of pain, on behalf of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and on behalf of myself and all makers of Arts and Culture, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, our strong embrace and the promise to honour our Teacher with our work.

May her soul rest in peace.

Source: O País / Ministry of Culture

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